The January 2012 issue of Game Informer is now available to subscribers across the country and it has some Zelda goodies for us. In particular there is a two-page interview with Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma and sound composer Koji Kondo. Both of these gentleman are two of the biggest names when it comes to the Zelda series and they talk about a range of topics. This includes motion controls, the story of Skyward Sword, romance in the game, the Zelda Timeline, orchestrated music, voice acting, and more. I’ve taken the time to type up the interview in its entirety and you can check it out after the jump. If you aren’t a subscriber to Game Informer, you can get a subscription for just $14.99 at any GameStop in the country, in which it comes with tons of other goodies as well.


Because it’s so tied to the motion controls, do you have any concern about future gamers being able to play and discover Skyward Sword the way that they can use the Virtual Console to play titles like Ocarina of Time or A Link to the Past?

Eiji Aonuma: I think that motion control devices will continue to be attached to Nintendo hardware going forward. I’m not worried about that… I hope. [laughs]


The characters and storytelling and the musical themes tied to some of the characters are reminiscent of classic Disney movies. Was that something you were drawing inspiration from with Skyward Sword?

Koji Kondo: My impression of what it is to be Disney-esque may be somewhat different than your impression. One of the reasons you may have come to that conclusion is that this is the first time we’ve used orchestrated music within a Zelda game. We’ve used it throughout the game – I think there’s about 30 songs total that are orchestrated. Because of that, I suspect maybe that the soundtrack itself feels a little bit closer to moves or animation than it does to past Zelda games.


Skyward Sword’s story doesn’t follow the predictable path of earlier titles. As you create more Zelda games, do you have the desire to create stories that stand out from the more simplistic tales that the series started out with?

Eiji Aonuma: I wouldn’t say that we were striving to create a deeper story this time around necessarily. We started with the idea for the overall game. One of the main themes that drove us this time was wanting people to explore the world. The impetus for Link going out and exploring the world became Zelda falling down below and Link needing to find her. But of course the challenge with a story like this is, once you find her, there’s no longer any need to continue exploring. We looking for ways to draw that experience out… so when it seemed like you were just about to get back together with Zelda, something would happen, and it would shift. The goal has really been not necessarily making the story deeper, but making it more interesting so that it keeps the player wanting to play all the way through to the end of the game.


Why did you decide to pursue a love story angle and increase Zelda’s role in Skyward Sword?

Eiji Aonuma: The game is The Legend of Zelda, so every time we’re making a new game, we struggle with how we’re going to portray the title character. This time what stood out for us was that Link and Zelda start off as childhood friends. We felt it was important to make that clear to the player. We look at this game as the earliest in the Zelda timeline, so we wanted to create a story where Zelda had a role that would help explain why it is The Legend of Zelda.

As far as the love story goes, it wasn’t that we wanted to create a romance between Link and Zelda as much as we wanted the player to feel like this is a person who’s very important to me, who I need to find. We used that hint of a romance between the two to tug at the heartstrings.


Do you see any possibility for more games in the Skyward Sword style or taking place in the same world?

Eiji Aonuma: With Wind Waker, the graphics were suited to handheld gaming. Also the game ended with Link embarking on a journey, so it left open the possibility of what comes after the game. With Skyward Sword, positioning it as the first Zelda game means everything else connects to it and comes after it. It becomes a little bit difficult to do something else within that world and certainly much more difficult to do something that comes before it.


Were there any gameplay elements you’d hoped to get in to Skyward Sword that didn’t quite make it?

Eiji Aonuma: Yes, there are things that were cut, but I can’t talk about them, because we’ll probably use them in the future. [laughs] Among all the things we were experimenting with early on, we took the ones that were the most fun and put them all into the game. The things that were cut were interesting ideas but needed a little more time fleshing them out and figuring out how they might work. I think that what we included ended up as the deepest and most robust Zelda game we’ve ever made.


Do you see a place in the future for voice acting in the Zelda series, or is that something that you’d still like to avoid?

Koji Kondo: The most important thing about the Zelda series is that the player becomes Link. One of the challenges with full voice is that if we’re trying to convey the player’s emotion through Link, but you hear Link talking in somebody else’s voice, that creates a disconnect between you and the role that you’re taking on.

Eiji Aonuma: One of the challenges with going full voice with the other characters is that because Link doesn’t talk, if you create a game where everybody else in the game speaks but Link doesn’t, it emphasizes the fact that he is silent and draws more attention to it. It’s a big challenge to find that balance between how you portray the other characters versus what you’re doing with the player’s character in a way that doesn’t make it seem awkward or out of place.

Of course, this was the first time we went with fully orchestrated songs in the game, and we’ve seen what that can do to help bring the world alive and make the game that much more fun. We’re continually looking at ways that we can evolve the series. We’re not confident that we can find the right balance with full voice, so we’ll see. The other issue is that everyone would be speaking Hylian, so even if you heard them speak, you wouldn’t understand them. [laughs]


Having proven with Skyward Sword that the Zelda series can evolve while maintaining the classic structure, what’s your vision for the future of Zelda?

Eiji Aonuma: I started working on the series not at the beginning, but part-way through its history. I think because of that, early on I was more looking objectively at the series and how we could change small, individual elements within it, rather than looking at how the series should evolve. As time has passed – particularly in the last few years – I’ve started to think a lot more about how I can take the series and really make it my own Zelda and evolve it further. As Mr. Miyamoto has allowed me to take the reins on the Zelda series, ultimately that’s what I need to do. Perhaps some people will think it’s a little bit late for me to start thinking about that, but as time goes by, that’s becoming more of a theme in how I’m approaching the series.


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